Abington Jefferson Hospital connecting doctors with families during heart surgery

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Abington Jefferson Hospital connecting doctors with families during heart surgery - Rick Williams reports during Action News at 5pm on June 12, 2018. (WPVI)

Video conferencing is a staple of big business these days and many families stay connected with apps like FaceTime.

Now, a local hospital is using it to connect heart surgeons in the operating room with families and colleagues.

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Mauricio Garrido repairs ailing hearts, or implants mechanical devices to help them work better.

The complex procedures can take 4, 5, even 6 hours and that's tough on the patient's loved ones.

"That last hour of them waiting in the waiting room, we believe the anxiety of the family members starts exponentially climbing," said Dr. Garrido.

To ease that tension, Abington Jefferson turned to telehealth - a high-definition webcam with video-conferencing software.

About an hour before the operation is finished, when the process is stable, Dr. Garrido connects with the nurse who'll care for the patient after surgery. Then, he talks directly with the family.

The conversation is usually just a minute, but does so much.

"The video link is excellent. It absolutely did relieve me to know that he was calm and confident, and it helped make us more calm and confident," said daughter, Shantay Roberson.

The system is also aimed at connecting surgeons with colleagues or outside experts more efficiently.

"If there's a need to make a change in the course of the procedure, we can communicate that information out earlier," said Dr. Garrido.

Dr. Garrido says he's seen another benefit to video conferencing.

"It's a reminder to the staff and all in the operating room on why we're doing all the work that we're doing," he said.

In 2 months of use, every family asked has opted to use this system. Dr. Garrido says eventually, it may also be used to communicate with loved ones who are not in the hospital.

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